From the Indiana supplement to the March 2008 Knight Templar Magazine:
Fourteenth-century Europe comes to Indiana Orders in period costume at Indiana Masonic Home
by Ed Sebring
All Sir Knights are invited to see the Orders of Knights Templary conferred “in the fullest possible form” by members of Levant Preceptory dressed in the arms and armor of the 13th and 14th centuries.
The “Knight Templar Festival” will begin with the Illustrious Order of the Red Cross at 10 a.m. EST on Satur-day, April 12, in back by the barn at the Indiana Masonic Home in Franklin. Lunch will be served at noon at the shelter house with grills, followed by the Order of Malta and the Mediterranean Pass at 1 p.m. The Order of the Temple is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m.
Finally, a “medieval feast” will be served at 6 p.m. Total cost for both meals is $25, a portion of which will go toward a project for Masonic Home residents. Reservations should be made through SK Mike Ritter, Deputy Battalion Commander, firstname.lastname@example.org, or 4504 N. Ball Ave, Muncie, IN 47304
So why is the Grand Commandery of Indiana sponsoring such a conferral?
“Last year the York Rite did a one-day class in April and it was a success,” said Grand Commander Andrew R. Jackson. “I wanted something special for this year and we have the Levant folks up to speed and they wished to confer the Order of the Temple.
“I’ve served on the IMH Board for many years and my wife works there, and I thought it only fitting to bring Templary to our Home. I have the petition from the IMH Chaplain and have been promised one from the new IMH CEO, John Rose.
“Indiana Templary can grow with fine events such as this one. Keeping the interest of the times and changing ages of our current and new members should be at the forefront of our Grand Commandery leadership. The York Rite is on the move with the many programs and members working to increase our member-ship This event has good basic entertainment for all who will attend.”
The “Levant folks” are the members of Levant Preceptory, a group of Hoo-sier Sir Knights who haves invested hundreds of dollars of their own money to acquire Norman-style helmets, chain mail, swords and clothing as the crusading Knights Templar would have worn 700 years ago. The Levant is the crescent of land at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea, and “preceptory” is the name our Canadian brethren use for their local units instead of “commandery.” The reenactors adopted that name to indicate the time and place they are trying to re-enact, and to indicate they are an organized group but not a separate commandery.
Members of Levant Preceptory marched in costume during this past IMH pilgrimage. Their first performance was Oct. 13 in Shelbyville, a day that was precisely 700 years after the arrest of the crusading Knights Templar on trumped- up charges of heresy. In a darkened room, the Levantines spoke as our spiritual Knight Templar ancestors might have spoken, about their fears for their future and how they would react personally to the news of the arrests. But in previous interviews, officials of Levant Preceptory said it was their dearest wish to get to portray the Orders on candidates in period costume. Now they have that chance.
"We're very excited about finally having a firm date to confer the Order of the Temple for the first time as a group,” said SK James Dillman, director of work for Levant Preceptory. “I wouldn't describe what I'm feeling as pressure and we're certainly not scared; responsibility is probably a better word. We owe it to the candidates to properly convey the lessons of the Order of the Temple and I'm confident that we'll do just that. We're taking our work very seriously. Our experience in Shelbyville taught
us that people are very excited about seeing us in the period costumes, so that adds an element of fun for us as well.” At this point, Dillman expects 17 Sir Knights to appear in period costume to confer the Orders on April 12.
“We're going to have to make a few very minor adjustments because of the broadswords and the equipment we'll be wearing,” Dillman said. “We'll be rehearsing a couple of times in March and will do a full dress rehearsal on Friday night before the festival.”